Kurt Russell / Films known for:
Death Proof, Grindhouse, Poseidon, Vanilla Sky, Soldier, Escape from L.A, Executive Decision, Stargate, Tombstone, Backdraft, Tango & Cash, Tequila Sunrise, Overboard, Big Trouble in Little China, The Mean Season, Swing Shift, Silkwood, The Thing, Escape from New York, Used Cars, Elvis
Donald Moffat / Films known for:
The Sleep Room, Clear and Present Danger, Regarding Henry, Class Action, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Music Box, Far North, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Best of Times, Alamo Bay, The Right Stuff, The Thing, The White Lions, Popeye, Land of No Return, Earthquake, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid
Keith David / Films known for:
Cloud Atlas, Gamer, Coraline, Transporter 2, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Crash, The Chronicles of Riddick, The Replacements, Requiem for a Dream, Pitch Black, There's Something About Mary, Armageddon, Volcano, Dead Presidents, Clockers, The Quick and the Dead, The Puppet Masters, Marked for Death, Always, Road House, They Live, Platoon
Wilford Brimley / Films known for:
The Road Home, Comanche, Progeny, My Fellow Americans, Mutant Species, Heaven Sent, Hard Target, The Firm, Eternity, Cocoon: The Return, Jackals, Cocoon, Country, The Natural, Tough Enough, Tender Mercies, The Thing, Death Valley, Absence of Malice, Borderline, Brubaker, The Electric Horseman, The China Syndrome
Richard Dysart / Films known for:
Panther, Back to the Future Part III, Wall Street, Castle in the Sky, Warning Sign, Pale Rider, Mask, The Falcon and the Snowman, The Thing, Being There, Meteor, Prophecy, The Hindenburg, The Day of the Locust, The Terminal Man, The Hospital, The Sporting Club
David Clennon / Films known for:
J. Edgar, Flags of Our Fathers, Syriana, Constellation, Matinee, Betrayed, Legal Eagles, The Right Stuff, Star 80, The Thing, The Escape Artist, Missing, Hide in Plain Sight, Being There, Go Tell the Spartans, Gray Lady Down, Coming Home
T.K. Carter / Films known for:
Domino, The L.A. Riot Spectacular, Baadasssss!, My Favorite Martian, Space Jam, A Rage in Harlem, Ski Patrol, Runaway Train, The Thing, Southern Comfort, Seems Like Old Times, Seed of Innocence, The Hollywood Knights, Corvette Summer
Charles Hallahan / Films known for:
Mind Rage, Ambushed, The Pest, Dante's Peak, The Rich Man's Wife, The Fan, Executive Decision, Dave, Body of Evidence, True Believer, Fatal Beauty, Pale Rider, Vision Quest, Kidco, Silkwood, The Thing, Hide in Plain Sight
Peter Maloney / Films known for:
K-PAX, Requiem for a Dream, Boiler Room, Summer of Sam, The Object of My Affection, The Crucible, Thinner, JFK, Manhunter, Desperately Seeking Susan, The Thing, The Children, Hide in Plain Sight, The Amityville Horror, Breaking Away, Capone
Richard Masur / Films known for:
Palindromes, Multiplicity, My Girl 2, The Man Without a Face, Encino Man, My Girl, Walker, Rent-a-Cop, The Believers, My Science Project, The Mean Season, Risky Business, The Thing, Heaven's Gate, Scavenger Hunt, Hanover Street, Semi-Tough
Thomas G. Waites / Films known for:
The Life Zone, The Great Fight, The Grand Theft, The Look, Nailed, Most Wanted, An American Affair, Timelock, Money Train, McBain, Shakedown, Light of Day, The Clan of the Cave Bear, The Thing, The Warriors, On the Yard
Joel Polis / Films known for:
Fallen Angels, Alien Hunter, A Light in the Darkness, Attraction, Tumbleweeds, It's My Party, Fly by Night, The Rookie, My Blue Heaven, True Believer, Best Defense, The Thing
One of the film's associate producers, Larry J. Franco, has a credited cameo as the Norwegian rifleman from the beginning of the film.
Director John Carpenter and his then-wife Adrienne Barbeau have uncredited cameos as a man in the Norwegian video footage and the voice of the chess computer, respectively.
Although the production's helicopter pilots are not characters within the movie and only serve as body doubles when the helicopters are in flight, they are listed under the credits.
Nate Irvin is listed as Helicopter Pilot and William Zeman is listed as Pilot.
Two names were changed from Bill Lancaster's second draft of the script. The character Windows was originally named Sanchez, who was described as "hating it here" and "lousy at his job".
The second character changed is the Norwegian rifleman, who was identified as "Jans Bolan" in a deleted scene from his dogtags and named Lars according to the 2011 prequel.
The Thing was Carpenter's eighth time directing a full-length feature and his first movie under the production of a major film studio (Universal Studios). The Thing was the fourth film shot by cinematographer Dean Cundey (following Carpenter's Halloween, The Fog, and Escape from New York) and the third to feature Kurt Russell as the lead actor.
Russell would appear in two additional Carpenter films following The Thing: Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from L.A.. Most of the special effects were designed and created by Rob Bottin and his crew, with the exception of the dog creature, which was created by Stan Winston.
The film was shot anamorphically for the 2.39:1 "scope" ratio. Despite current trends leaning towards digital shooting, the 2011 prequel was also shot on film in the anamorphic format.
In the documentary Terror Takes Shape on the DVD, film editor Todd C. Ramsay states that he made the suggestion to Carpenter to film a "happy" ending for the movie, purely for protective reasons, while they had Russell available.
Carpenter agreed and shot a scene in which MacReady has been rescued and administered a blood test, proving that he is still human. Ramsay follows this by saying that The Thing had two test screenings, but Carpenter did not use the sequence in either of them, as the director felt that the film worked better with its eventual nihilistic conclusion.
The alternate ending with MacReady definitively proven to be human has yet to be released. According to the 1998 DVD release, the "Blair Monster" was to have had a much larger role in the final battle. However, due to the limitations of stop-motion animation, the monster appears for only a few seconds in the film.
The film's musical score was composed by Ennio Morricone, a rare instance of Carpenter not scoring one of his own films, although Carpenter did score a few pieces of music with Alan Howarth which were also used in the final film.